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SCOTUS reviews DUI breath tests, blood tests and warrants

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) recently heard a case questioning the legality of breath tests, blood tests and when a person can face prison time for refusing either.

Ultimately, SCOTUS held that it is legal for a state to require a person who has been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) to submit to breath test. At the same time, SCOTUS also held that it is illegal for a state to require blood tests without first getting a warrant.

Why one but not the other?

According to this ruling, there is a big difference between blood and breath tests. Essentially, justices argued over how invasive the tests are.

Based on their analysis, they found that a blood test is much more invasive than a breath test. As a result, having a needle stuck into your arm to remove blood for testing requires a warrant.

In contrast, breath tests were found less invasive - simply providing a breath sample for testing does not require a warrant. This means it is lawful for officers to require a breath test after an arrest. Failure to submit to the test can result in imprisonment in some states.

What is the impact for those facing charges in New Hampshire?

Holdings issued by SCOTUS have an impact on states throughout the nation. As a result, the holding could impact DUI arrests in New Hampshire.

It is important to note that although New Hampshire law allows for the suspension of a driver's license upon refusal to submit to a chemical test, it does not currently have a law that results in imprisonment for refusal to submit to a breath test. This holding, however, could result in lawmakers considering such proposals. Since criminal law is always evolving, this could pose an issue in the future.

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